Software & Web Development

Apple Pay rival CurrentC ends beta test, may finally be dead

The CurrentC death watch continues: After a round of layoffs last month, the group of retailers backing a proprietary mobile payment system is ending a trial run of its app in Columbus, Ohio and will be shutting down user accounts at the end of June.

The Consumerist reported that the Merchant Consumer Exchange, a consortium of companies that signed on to back the CurrentC app, isn’t exactly folding. But CurrentC users won’t be able to use the app anymore, and there are no plans to expand the service nationwide.

CurrentC seemed like it had a shot before Apple came along with its own phone-based payment service, though the concept behind the app has always been a little lo-tech. Where most companies are embracing Near-Field Communication baked inside smartphones to enable mobile payments, CurrentC works by generating transaction-specific QR codes that cashiers scan at the payment terminal. The MCX hasn’t ruled out NFC completely, but its core technology is rudimentary.

The story behind the story: Many of CurrentC’s original backers, including stores like Best Buy and Target, are either already supporting Apple Pay or plan to in the near future. Walmart stores in Columbus were part of the CurrentC beta test, but the company has said that it will pilot its own mobile payment service, fittingly named Walmart Pay. Without support and a timeline for expansion, it seems like CurrentC is finally dead. Meanwhile, Apple Pay continues to rack up users and expand internationally, despite early snafus (including some caused by CurrentC members).

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